Actemium is open to sharing product data

Actemium is open to sharing product data

01 September 2021

‘’Actemium is open to sharing product data.’’ But what do we exactly mean in this aspect? We spoke with Ton van Amstel, Hardware Engineer at Actemium location Veghel, about exchanging product data between other companies within the Industrial Automation branch. Ton has years of experience in the profession and talks about the importance of competent people and the use of the right systems.


Ton van Amstel entered the industry 37 years ago after his HBO education. Ton: ‘Thanks to my education and knowledge of the English language, I quickly ended up in the engineering department after a short period as an installer. At the start of his career, the work he provided looked very differently. “We only worked with catalogues, representatives of suppliers came by every week to keep in touch and all the drawing was done by hand. Literally by hand, since PCs and copiers did not exist yet. There was less stress and less workload as well. There was simply no expectation that electrical drawings would be available at the touch of a button, which just costs you days of work. I don’t miss it at all: if you’re drawing the umpteenth terminal, it is not challenging anymore.’

Actemium advises, designs, builds, optimizes and maintains your industrial processes. Our Solutions & Services for Industry fit the life cycle of your production facilities. With a passion for technology, a market segmented approach and knowledge of your process, we like to make the difference. We do this worldwide, but still close to you.
The Actemium network – the VINCI Energies brand for industry – consists of 22,000 specialists and 400 business units in 41 countries worldwide. In the Netherlands, 1000 enterprising professionals move the industry from 22 business units.

Learning in practice and from each other

Ton works for the Business Unit that specializes in manufacturing and logistics. Ton: ‘The organizational culture is very open and everyone is more than willing to help each other. It doesn’t matter whether you walk into the director’s office or speak to the installers, knowledge exchange takes place because people from different Business Units help each other out if necessary.’ Ton’s practical experience benefits him a lot, especially at Actemium. ‘Engineers who start working at Actemium directly after they have finished their studies, first start working in the field. This gives them a better understanding of ​​what is being designed and what situations you can run into when connecting panels in practice. Only then can you make a design that is in line with the operation.’

Challenging work at Actemium

From machine building (OEM) in the food industry to galvanizing plants, animal feed and projects to fill medicine syringes for veterinarians. The engineering job at Actemium is challenging. Ton: ‘There are many unique projects and you have a lot of contact with the suppliers. For example, there are retrofits for machines where documentation is missing. You have to analyze every sensor and every servo motor and find the right replacements based on properties. Essentially, we regularly engage the supplier to support us in making the right choices.’

An early adopter of BeeFinity

A complete and central location for products has been important for Actemium for decades. Ton explains: “Previously, this was a self-written software application. A digital list that was linked to the ERP system and Eplan. This tooling provided unambiguous descriptions. In addition, this was very useful to be able to calculate the costs of materials from the Bill-of-Material. At Actemium, the Lead Engineer is also involved in monitoring budgets in addition to technology. “Nowadays we use BeeFinity. A logical choice, it is the best solution available in the market to fulfil these functionalities. BeeFinity is preferable to developing and maintaining tooling within our proprietary organization.’ Our tooling needed to be replaced and in addition, application development distracts us from the focus on projects. Ton: ‘Later on, Yellax suggested us as ‘early adopter’ to get started with co-creation and thus divide the great effort of tens of thousands of products per organization. ‘Right now, Yellax is busy behind the scenes with the functionality of sharing 3D models and other products attachments. We are really looking forward to that development’

Product data management within organizations leads to very high management and failure costs and annoyance, not to forget… The technical industry in the Netherlands has been struggling for years to get the product information and associated information flows in order. By joining forces, we highly increase the quality of product data! At BeeFinity, we like to make a comparison with the app ‘Flitsmeister’ whereas the data is also provided and verified by the community.


What is Ton’s perspective on these developments? He is clear about that: ‘If you have to do all those things yourself, it just takes a lot of time. Yet companies often shy away from sharing information, which is a shame. Product data from various data pools and manufacturer sites are generally available. So, what is the difference with this co-creation? A 3D model does not contain any secret company data, they are simply properties of a supplier.’ Ton further indicates that unfortunately there are still many manufacturers who do not supply data and 3D models, or only as a simple STEP file. “All this data and models aim to identify errors in control cabinet design. Making such a 3D model complete, consists of linking the 3D models and files to the correct products. Furthermore, adding drilling patterns for the holes in the mounting plate and connection images to control wire manufacturing machines. The business unit of panel building is taking more and more steps in workshop automation, excellent 3D models and data are a precondition to be able to do this. Collaboration between different parties is the key here to make the work manageable. Working together efficiently is necessary to get the work done together,’ he believes.

Ton estimates that a 3D model must be made for at least 10% of the total of 20,000 products at Actemium. The time spent per 3D model quickly takes more than 30 minutes on average and there are still many products that have to be made from scratch. For instance, frequency controllers that you secretly spend a lot of time with.

Edulab for engineers

Nowadays, hardware engineers are very scarce. That is why Actemium has been in control of the Edulab training centre for years. Many students conduct internships and graduate here. Ton also thinks it’s a good way to get to know students. “The new generation no longer knows the order numbers by heart, just like we no longer know telephone numbers by heart. Selecting on properties is therefore an important function. We sort the attributes to ensure that the most important choice is made first. For example, a circuit breaker: first the kA value is selected, then the tripping characteristic and only then the current. In addition, we use significant filters, such as preferred materials per Actemium Business Unit, but also to be able to filter per customer. When selecting, it is about the basic knowledge that young engineers must also have, you must know what to filter on. But it makes it a lot easier.’’

What could be even better in the future? Ton: ‘’There will always be wishes and bugs can always occur. In essence, I like the quick response from support related to that. When we started a few years ago, co-creation was not yet in the picture, we did not know that we could access product prices and product delivery times via 2BA and the sharing of 3D models and UL certificates were still unknown. I understand that not all wishes can be met immediately, but I think it’s great that BeeFinity continues to grow. In this way, product data management will only get better.”

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